BREVARD COUNTY • MELBOURNE, FL – Seven years ago, Alex Sher was an Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioner with Brevard Health Alliance, the only federally licensed health center in Brevard County. During this time, Sher followed a rising star among BHA’s medical service providers, Dr. Ted Schuck.
Fast forward to the spring of 2022, Sher is now advancing her own medical career as a second-year medical student at LMU-DCOM in Harrogate, Tennessee. Schuck is now chief medical officer at BHA.
In addition to a stethoscope, Sher also brandishes a reporter’s notebook. And when offered the opportunity to write one of 20 recurring columns for “The DO,” one of the first things that came to mind for the budding doctor was the time he shared with Schuck as a mentee and mentor at BHA. .
Since 1960, “The DO” has been the official publication of the American Osteopathic Association. Written by osteopathic doctors, by osteopathic doctors, the magazine became entirely digital in 2010 and is accessible on thedo.osteopathic.org.
Sher’s article, “From Philadelphia to Florida: How This DO’s Journey Led Him to Serve Underserved Patients,” is featured in the recent April 2022 publication. It focuses on health centers communities like BHA and contributions to communities made by medical service providers like Schuck, who primarily work with underserved patients.
When given the opportunity to contribute editorially to “The DO,” Sher said her first thoughts were to devote some ink to medical professionals who don’t necessarily capture the glitz and glamor of profession, but focus on patient care.
“I was selected for the editorial advisory board of ‘The DO’ magazine and also applied to be editor of the DO to Know column,” Sher said.
“When the board started thinking about potential DOs to feature in the column, I told them that I wanted my column to be one that featured a lot of the ‘silent heroes’ of medicine. I wanted to feature the doctors who don’t tend to be “the biggest hits in the news,” but rather are more focused on their time working with patients, students, and the community.
Sher said Dr. Schuck quickly came to mind from Schuck’s previous service with the National Health Service Corp and his leadership tenure at BHA which ultimately led to Schuck’s appointment as BHA’s Chief Medical Officer. .
“I spoke to my editors at Dr. Schuck and BHA and they were supportive of the idea. We got a great piece from a remote interview and a community hero got a little ongoing recognition road. It was a win-win.”
Sher also drew on his own first-hand experience as the backstory for the story he wrote.
“The Brevard Health Alliance played a huge role in my development from a registered nurse in South Florida to a nurse practitioner in Brevard County,” he explained.
“When I was at the University of Central Florida completing my nurse practitioner degree, I was placed with a BHA mentor. After graduating, I accepted my first job at BHA.
Sher recalls that on her first day with BHA, she was told, “Welcome to the BHA family.”
Understandably nervous about combining a new job, a new city and a new profession, Sher said from the moment he walked into BHA, Schuck made him feel immediately welcomed and at ease.
“Dr. Schuck showed me around the clinic and spent the day getting to know and trusting me in my new role. It takes a special provider to do what we do at BHA. You can’t fake compassion and care about a community.
Sher would leave BHA for a four-year stint in emergency care, before having her own drive to advance her career by starting medical school in 2020.
He said on a whim that he had applied for a National Health Service Basic Scholarship, a program that had been mentioned to him by Schuck five years previously. He was awarded a very competitive scholarship and is now on a downhill trajectory that may well lead him back to working at a federally licensed health facility, such as BHA.
Could completing medical school bring this future doctor back to Brevard County?
“When I accepted this very competitive scholarship, it set up a likely return to a federally licensed health center. I am now entering my third year of medical school and will complete my clinical studies with Advent Ocala. When I graduate and complete my residency, I hope to be able to return to Brevard County,” Sher said.
“I would love to continue my work at BHA. It would be quite a loopy adventure – my first day there as a nurse practitioner, and a first day there as a doctor too. Who better for me? welcome into the BHA family than Dr. Schuck, now medical director?”
These sentiments are shared by his mentor Schuck, who would like to see the medical relationship transform to the level of a colleague DO one day.
“Alex’s pursuit of an osteopathic degree is a great example of what federally qualified health centers want to see in their employees; continuing education in order to serve the community on a larger scale,” Schuck said.
“The door is always open to welcome Dr. Sher back to his BHA family.”